Ryan Sharkey preceded Greening as wrestling coach

Derek Greening is giving up the position of head wrestling coach at Hannibal High School after 13 years.

"He did an amazing job," said Clint Graham, activities director for the Hannibal School District #60. "I always knew Coach Greening's was going to do what was best for the kids and the program, and do things the right way which helped make my job a lot easier."

Greening's decision was not an easy one.

"It was a very difficult decision for me, but the time is definitely right," he said.

Factoring heavily in Greening's decision was his family.

"It's time for me to put my family first," he said. "My son is wrestling for HLGU and I missed 90 percent of his matches this year. My two girls both are active in sports in the winter and I missed a lot of their events. I want to be able to make more of their events to support them."

Greening does not believe the wrestling program at HHS will suffer because of his departure.

"We have a lot of great coaches that I feel will make sure the program continues without missing a beat," he said. "There is a great core of wrestlers that are still there and some good ones coming up. It was important for me to leave at a time when I felt both the coaching staff and the wrestlers were going to be very successful." 

Greening seriously considered retiring after the 2017-18 season, but chose to stick around for another year because his assistant Daryl Zessin was retiring.

"I did not want the program to have a complete overhaul," he said, adding that he thought it would be "really neat" to get to work with the former HHS wrestler, Jake Borgmeyer.

Greening has been a part of Hannibal wrestling for 24 years, wrestling himself for six years and coaching for 18 years, 13 as head coach.

Greening took over as head coach from Ryan Sharkey, who had coached Greening his senior year.

Greening will walk away from coaching with a countless number of fond memories. 

"There have been countless big matches that kids won over the years and the smile they get after that is hard to explain," he said. "The kids that have jumped into my arms after a big win at the state tournament is a feeling that will be hard to replace. 

"Watching a kid that has not wrestled very long win his first match. Watching our wrestlers get just as excited for their teammates as they do themselves after a big win."

As much as Greening enjoyed watching all his athletes compete, he especially cherished being on hand to watch his son, Kaleb, wrestle. "I really enjoyed having a front row seat for every match of my son's high school career. Being mat side when he qualified for the state tournament is a time I will never forget," he said.

Placing as a team at state ranks high on Greening's list of fond memories as does hearing from former wrestlers. 

While he will not be coaching the Pirate grapplers, Greening will remain one of their biggest fans. 

"I plan on still supporting this program as it is helped mold me into who I am today," he said.

Greening extended his thanks to the school district for giving him the opportunity to coach, to all his former wrestlers and their families for being part of the wrestling program, and to a group he referred to as the "Pirate wrestling family."

Graham said the search for Greening's successor will begin immediately.

"Derek is a great coach who is well respected not only here in Hannibal and at Hannibal High School, but throughout the state in wrestling," he said. "Whoever takes over for him will have big shoes to fill."

 

danny.henley@courierpost.com